New Mexico is well-known for its beautiful landscapes and wide-open spaces. Whether its skiing, hiking, camping, fishing, or hunting, our state truly has it all. So, it’s not a surprise that most of us have a “conservation mindset.”
According to Colorado College’s “State of the Rockies” poll released today, 73% of New Mexicans consider themselves to be conservationists and 76% consider themselves to be outdoor recreation enthusiasts.
New Mexico’s balanced approach to energy development on public lands reflects this conservation mindset and our love of the outdoors. Continuing this balanced approach could even allow for expanded energy development alongside recreation, grazing, and other uses that generate public funds. For example, of New Mexico’s 9 million acres held in state trust, less than a quarter are leased for oil and gas. It’s even less on federal lands, where only 17% of 27.6 million acres are leased for oil and gas.
Despite the fact that the vast majority of public land in New Mexico is not leased for oil and gas, more than 80% of development in New Mexico takes place on state or federal land. Our state receives enormous benefits as a result.
Last fiscal year, New Mexico received $634.9 million in federal energy revenues – more than any other state. This includes a recording breaking lease sale that netted nearly $1 billion, half of which came back to our state government to help fund schools, roads, and other public services.
The benefits from development on state land are even higher. Last fiscal year, oil and gas activity on state trust lands generated more than $791.7 million for a wide-range of beneficiaries, including schools, hospitals, and water conservation.
The poll also found that New Mexicans prefer compromise over strict adherence to political ideology. Compromise and balance are certainly working for us, too: unemployment is near its lowest level in a decade and we currently have a $1.1 billion budget surplus.
When it comes to public lands and conservation, we should continue to pursue economic prosperity through responsible development, which is exactly what we’ve proven we can do here in New Mexico.